UGBA 10 vs. Econ 1

It’s not a surprise that the most important Haas pre-requisites are UGBA 10 and Econ 1, the business and economics introductory courses. I wouldn’t it call it a necessity that you need to do well in both, but they are significant factors towards the 50% grades and coursework slice in the Haas application. Here is what you should expect from both classes.

Undergraduate Business Administration 10: Principles of Business

There used to be a curve for this class, and it was last implemented in Spring 2013, when I took this class. When you hear all the rumors of Haas being cutthroat, UGBA 10 is most likely where it stems from. The curve was removed starting Fall 2013 because Haas wanted to foster a community of love and interests rather than, you know, not.

Although I took the course when there was the curve, I have been fortunate enough to be supplied with the Spring 2014 syllabus, and the following information reflects that.

Course Structure
The course/grading is laid out like so: 60% tests (4 modules, 15% each), 30% assignments (4 activities for those modules, 7.5% each), and 10% participation.

The class used to be curved, now, everything is based on your own abilities, and your abilities alone, rather than where you are compared to others. Embrace this factor, work with other people, and don’t let the class be about competition.

Logistics: mostly pre-Haas. Class size is around 450 people (but Fall 2014 there will be more than 500), while sections typically have a smaller amount of people. It’s usually held in Wheeler Auditorium at 8 or 9 am MWF, so make sure you can wake up on time!

Material: not too difficult, and purely memorization.

Tests: each module exam is different based on the (four) professors teaching it. Professor Banks, who teaches human management, is typically concept based, while others (like Robinson in Spring 2013) tested super fine details that didn’t have any meaning in real life. Tests mostly have questions based on lecture material, with few questions from the reading. Thus, you should always plan on attending lecture.

Papers (and activities too): They need to be formatted in a certain way, grammar must be perfect, and must address everything given. Your GSI no longer has any jurisdiction on what they are looking for, so I suggest you stick very closely to the questions they give you and make sure they address everything.

Participation: some grade this harsher than others! Make sure you have something to say in every discussion, and make sure your GSI remembers what you have to say. If you don’t think what you said the first time was adequate / memorable, try again. Participation can bump you a whole sign (or letter)!

When to take?: The most popular semester for UGBA 10 seems to be freshmen second semester. Some choose to take it spring sophomore year so that UGBA 10 does not become a detrimental factor towards their GPA, however I would not recommend this strategy if you’re interested in taking upper division business courses right away.

Expectations and Advice for UGBA 10

1. Start studying early. It’s okay if you don’t read the chapters before lecture, just be consistent. Read a little every day, and make sure you don’t put it off until the day before the test to finally catch up on the reading!

2. When studying, focus on the lecture material. They are mostly tested on lecture. However, this isn’t to say that the reader/text won’t be covered at all. Questions on the reading tend to trip up people the most, and can reduce your grade by a whole letter if you’re not careful.

3. Record lecture! If you have time, re-listen to them. This is a great way for you to remember what was said.

4. Prepare for section. Make sure you say at least two relevant snippets or remarks every time, I say two because there may be a day where your GSI forgot you said something, make sure they remember.

5. Make sure you get to section on time, especially when a paper is due. That means, make sure you have ample time between classes to get there on time! Cheit is a little ways off from a lot of popular buildings like Dwinelle, Wheeler, and VLSB. Some GSIs are strict and may deduct points for the day if you’re late.

6. If possible, make your section time later in the week. This will give you more time to write your essay, ask your GSI questions about your outline, etc.

7. Don’t stress out. One bad test isn’t the end of the world. Consistent bad tests are not either. If you have to P/NP it, fine. Don’t quit just because you think the class is too competitive or if it’s too hard to do well. Cherish every experience, even if didn’t work out so well.

8. Prepare to spend a lot of time on this class, whether it’s going to office hours to clarify concepts, reading the book, or studying up the lecture material; you’re going to want to spend around 7-10 hours a week making sure you know every little detail.

9. Get to know your professors and GSI. You being named is better than you being nameless in a grade book. But then again, you should not be speaking to your profs and GSIs if that’s all you care about.

10. Laptop use is encouraged in class. I suggest either downloading the lecture beforehand and typing extra notes you hear or printing the slides and taking notes on them as you go. It’s faster and you absorb more information than if you rewrite things already made clear to you.

For some reason, getting a B- in UGBA 10 becomes a fun topic for me. I’ve already mentioned this a couple times on some of my other blog posts, but it’s okay if you don’t do well! I am a living example of someone who did terribly on an important pre-req, and still made it in. Don’t stress! I heard UGBA 10 is a much more enjoyable class now, so I hope I didn’t scare you.

Economics 1: Introduction to Economics

Unlike UGBA 10, where everyone will be pre-Haas (with the exception of some sprinkles of Operations Research and Management Science (ORMS), and those who’re taking the class for fun), Economics 1 has a lot of everyone. In addition, the course is more based on concept than memorization, so if UGBA 10 wasn’t your thing, maybe Econ 1 will work out better for you.

If you can, I highly suggest taking Econ 1 in a fall semester with Professor Martha Olney. She is a great lecturer, always willing to help, and fantastic at explaining confusing concepts. I have heard that it is harder with Professor Olney however, but her version of Econ 1 will prepare you very well for intermediate macroeconomics and microeconomics. The following tips and structure is reflective of taking Econ 1 with Professor Olney, who is also lecturing this fall.

Course Structure

In Fall 2013, the grading was laid out as so: 10% problem sets, 20% midterm (1), 20% midterm (2), 40% final, 10% discussion.

Logistics: this class is required for many humanities and interdisciplinary majors; examples of such majors besides Haas and Economics are Political Economy, Media Studies, ORMS, Development Studies, Legal Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS), and Public Health. Thus, the class usually has a lot of people enrolled: 720 to be precise. Sections are more cozy and have roughly 30 people.

Material: straightforward and concept-based.

Tests: midterms. Similar to assignments, but a bit deeper and connects more with other concepts. She frequently is inspired by global news in her questions, and references global situations in the her midterms. Again, concept-based.

Assignments: problem sets. Concept-based, typically with a one page paper as a last question. Fairly straightforward, and if you don’t get full points on problem sets, you can make up some of the points with iClicker points in lecture.

Participation: there’s ~10% participation in discussion (lab), which includes presentations and speaking. In addition, there are iClicker points in lecture that contribute to your problem set score. You should go to lecture to hear great explanations of concepts by Professor Olney, and your section to apply what you learned and try questions for yourself.

When to take? I would say most people take Econ 1 in two different times: second semester sophomore year and the summer between freshman and sophomore year. I’m honestly not quite sure why. I have heard that taking it in the summer is easier, and since there’s less people, it’s less competitive. Generally, taking Econ 1 is better in the fall because of Professor Olney (realize my bias now?), and because many people aren’t prepared for it freshman year, it’s taken sophomore year. That’s what I think anyway.

Expectations and Advice for Econ 1

Much of the expectation for Econ 1 is similar to that of UGBA 10. The differences are slight: Econ 1 has more diversity, more people, and different material.

1. Go to office hours if you have questions. Again, Professor Olney is great at explanations, and you can also go to your GSI for any clarifications you have.

2. Understand the concepts and work through them.

3. Do the reading consistently, but it’s most important if you know the concepts.

4. Study in groups! Since it’s concept-based, you’ll want to work with other students if you have any questions about something.

5. Professor Olney does not allow you to bring laptops in her class, but allows iPads and the like. I suggest printing out the lecture slides (as in UGBA 10) or bring an iPad to draw your graphs and add extra notes on the sides.

6. As in UGBA 10, get to know your professors and GSI (but for right reasons!)


You have an option of skipping out of Econ 1 if you get:

  • 5 on both AP Macroeconomics and Microeconomics
  • 5, 6, or 7 on IB Economics
  • A, B, or C on A Level Economics

I would discourage anyone who is considering skipping Econ 1 unless you are absolutely solid on your macro or micro. If you study Business, Economics, or Political Economy at Berkeley, you are required to go into intermediate macro and microeconomics, in the form of either UGBA 101A, Econ 100A, IAS 106 (micro); and UGBA 101B, Econ 100B, or IAS 107. They are not easy without Econ 1 experience.


A note on these two courses: you may notice that the most popular times for both these courses are not first semester freshman year. Thus, if you don’t want to take it first semester, you don’t have to, as you have plenty of time to finish all five pre-reqs!

Take them when you like, and good luck!

2 thoughts on “UGBA 10 vs. Econ 1

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